Buffalo Police Lt. Joseph Fahey started his new job last week: getting the Buffalo Police Department ready to seek accreditation by the state.
“There are things with (accreditation) that can bring our department up to date,” Fahey said. “… It’s there to promote training and public confidence in the law, in the city and in the police department.”
With Fahey in place as the accreditation administrator, the Buffalo Police Department has taken its first major step toward accreditation. A voluntary program administered by the state Department of Criminal Justice Services since 1989, accreditation is designed to help law enforcement agencies make sure their policies are up to date and they use the best practices.
The Buffalo Police Department, which has more than 700 full-time law enforcement officers, is one of 12 of the state’s 50 largest police departments that isn’t accredited. The New York City Police Department, which is by far the state's largest law enforcement agency, also is not. But Albany, Niagara Falls, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers all have accredited police departments. The Erie County Sheriff's Office is accredited, although it lost its accreditation a few years ago before it became accredited again in 2013. So is the Niagara County Sheriff's Office. Police departments in Amherst, Cheektowaga, Evans, West Seneca, the University at Buffalo campus, and both the town and city of Tonawanda are accredited by the state.
In July, after years of calls for the Buffalo Police Department to be accredited by an outside agency, the department announced that it was in talks with the state to begin the process.
Appointing Fahey to lead the process was the first major step.
A 20-year veteran of the Buffalo Police Department, Fahey has spent most of his career in patrol, most recently in the South Buffalo District. He has also worked in 911 and with the Mobile Response Unit, now known as Strike Force.
Fahey expects to spend the first couple of weeks at his new position reaching out to accredited agencies around the state. He plans on visiting them to get advice on how best to proceed.
“I want to take a look at how they do it, what their pros and cons are and from there, I’ll make a plan,” Fahey said.
He knows it will be a lengthy and laborious endeavor, which could take as much as a year and a half before the department is ready for the state’s evaluation.
“The initial process will take a while,” he said.
To maintain accreditation from the state, police agencies must reapply every five years.